Phantom of the Digiworld
Chapter 21 – The Finale
Kari had to remind herself again to breathe in and out as she stared excitedly one last time at the inside of the thick red velvet curtain. As soon as it parted she could hear the audience's cheers of applause. She stepped once more onto the stage, a huge smile radiating on her face. This was the curtain call. The end of the show.
It had been a terrific ending, Kari thought to herself as she took her bows. Somehow, they had managed to pull themselves together for the second act. What was even more surprising was the fact that it didn't seem as if Tai's stunt had not driven away a single member of the audience, although, it had put him in grave danger of Mrs. Fujita's wrath.
The spectators rose to their feet when Davis stepped out of the wing to join her. Although he was extremely pale and more than a little wobbly, Davis had been spectacular in his final scenes. Kari let the enormous bouquet of flowers she had been clutching hit the floor as she embraced him.
They receded backstage as T.K. entered. Joining the other cast members lined across the rear of the stage, Kari and Davis added their praise to the thunder of applause T.K. had earned. After he had bowed several times, he turned to pull Davis and Kari back to the front where they joined hands for one final bow before the curtains closed at last.
Backstage, the cast was cheering and celebrating a successful performance. Luckily, their exclamations were muffled by the audience's continued applause from the other side of the heavy curtain.
Before they reached the exuberant cast members, Kari felt Davis's hand slip out of her own. She turned to look at him, but with his head tilted downward Kari could see nothing but the lingering paleness of his complexion.
"Davis, are you okay?" she asked worriedly, ignoring T.K.'s arms sliding around her waist from behind.
"I'm fine now, Kari," he said quietly, "thanks to you guys."
"You don't have to thank us Davis," T.K. interrupted, trying his best to avoid an awkward apology.
"Yes I do!" Davis protested. He sniffled, "I'm so sorry. This was all my fault. Look at all the trouble I've caused. I'm so sorry, Kari." He whispered the last sentence, looking down at the green-tinged bruise on Kari's forearm.
Kari reached for his hand and squeezed it. "It's okay Davis. We forgive you."
"It wasn't your fault," T.K. added, "Devimon left those gears in the mountain on purpose. I've seen the way he used to use them, turning good digimon into evil. The gear was controlling you, making you do things you would never do."
Davis nodded, agreeing, though Kari could see that he still hadn't forgiven himself. Before she could say anything else to him, Kim and several of the other chorus girls pulled him away, all gushing over how great he was.
Kari watched him fade into the crowd, a glimpse of his normal self returning to his eyes as Kim stroked his arm and his ego.
"He'll be back to himself in no time," T.K. whispered into her ear, pulling her against him.
"That's what we thought before, remember?" she reminded him, leaning against him. As excited as she had been for tonight's performance, it was a huge relief to her knowing that it was all over. It was like an enormous weight had been lifted from her chest.
"It's different this time," T.K. continued, "now that MagnaAngemon and Angewomon destroyed all of the black gears for good this time."
"I know, T.K.," she said. "But I'm still worried about him. Do you think he'll be different now?"
"I don't know, Kari. I think it'll just take time. Remember how long it took Ken to heal after he stopped being the Digimon Emperor?"
"That's not a good comparison!" Kari said, "I don't think Ken will ever be the same. You know as well as I do that he still feels guilty about the terrible things he did."
"It's a good thing Davis wasn't half as bad as Ken was then," Tai interrupted, crossing the stage to join them along with Matt and Sora. "What's taking you guys so long? We need to get this party started!"
Matt and Sora rolled their eyes. "We're going to have a cast party tonight at my place. Are you guys in?" Matt asked.
"Yeah," replied Kari and T.K. excitedly.
"Then let's get a move on!" Tai complained, pulling their arms toward the exit door.
"Tai," Kari said, swatting at his arm. "I have to change first." When he still hadn't let her go she asked, "Tai! What's with you? Let me go change." She looked back helplessly to where Matt and Sora were laughing behind them.
"He's just in a hurry to get as far away from Mrs. Fujita as possible," Sora explained.
"With good reason!" Tai said, uselessly pulling on T.K. and Kari's sleeves. "She wants to kill me!"
"She's not going to kill you, Tai," said T.K. reassuringly.
"Yeah," Kari agreed, finally pulling free of older brother's death grip. "Besides, it's illegal. She'd go to jail."
Before Tai could debate how deep Mrs. Fujita's hatred of him ran, they heard a very disgruntled voice call out from among the throng of celebrators, "Taichi Kamiya!"
Tai's face turned white before he sheepishly turned to face his friends, "I guess I'll see you guys at Matt's then?"
Mrs. Fujita was pushing her way through the crowd to get to Tai. Tai, however, was already slipping through the curtain and disappearing out into the theater where masses of people were still lined to get through the exit doors. T.K., Kari, Matt and Sora could barely manage to yell their goodbye to him through their laughter.
"I guess we better go too," Matt said, taking Sora's hand.
"We'll see you guys later!" Sora called as they too headed toward the exit.
After Kari had changed into her street clothes she met T.K. at the entrance door.
"Are you ready?" he asked her.
She nodded, pulling the strap of her tote bag over one shoulder so she could wrap her other arm around his waist. They walked peacefully for a while in silence. Although it was dark out, it felt much like their after school walks together.
Kari sighed, breathing in the warm spring night air and enjoying the freedom she knew was coming to her. Already she was thinking about the next week of school and what she would do with her afternoons now that she no longer had rehearsals every day.
"What is it?" T.K. asked, made slightly nervous by her heavy sigh.
"I was just wondering what comes next, now that The Phantom is over and done with."
He pulled her a little bit closer to him and leaned his head down to brush a kiss across her forehead. "I can think of a few things."
He smiled mischievously and handsomely as she looked up at him. She smiled back, not having to ask what he was insinuating. Sighing blissfully again, she leaned her head onto his chest as they kept walking. Even though it felt like the end of something big and important in her life, in comparison to the love she felt in her heart for T.K., she knew this was just the beginning.